Loan watch: Sead Haksabanovic rounds off season with a goal
Playmaker Sead Haksabanovic rounded off the Swedish Allsvenskan season with a final-day goal for IFK Norrkoping, as one of six West Ham United loanees in action this weekend.
Other results meant that Haksabanovic’s club IFK Norrkoping, who until recently were in contention for a European qualification spot, went into the home game against Djurgarden with a fifth-place finish guaranteed regardless of the outcome. Their visitors, however, had much more on the line, requiring a point to seal their first league title since 2005.
Nevertheless, it was Haksabanovic and Norrkoping who began the game at a canter, the West Ham loanee’s corner kick after eight minutes taking a couple of deflections before finding the net via Rasmus Lauritsen. Five minutes later, and Haksabanovic had his sixth and final goal of the season, heading in Simon Skrabb’s right-wing cross to set Djurgarden’s hearts racing.
The game would turn in the second half when the league leaders pulled themselves level through Jesper Karlstrom and Mohamed Buya Turay, sealing their title in the process.
Haksabanovic joined IFK Norrkoping on an 18-month loan deal in January, and can be pleased to have recorded six goals and eight assists in 29 Allsvenskan appearances this season.
In League One, 18-year-old defender Ajibola Alese recorded his first Football League clean sheet at the heart of Accrington Stanley’s defence as they drew 0-0 at Coventry.
The ball-playing centre-back was instrumental in helping Stanley shut out the opposition for the first time in eight matches, with their play-off chasing hosts unable to create many clear-cut chances against the lean defence. Alese has impressed in recent weeks, as Saturday’s game marked his fourth consecutive start for the Lancashire side.
Nathan Trott was also in solid form for AFC Wimbledon in the same division, making several stops to see his side to a 1-1 draw at home to Lincoln City.
The England U21 goalkeeper denied Lincoln’s Michael O’Connor and Jack Payne during the 90 minutes, those saves proving crucial when Kwesi Appiah’s injury-time header cancelled out Payne’s near-post finish.
Alese’s Accrington Stanley and Trott’s AFC Wimbledon now sit 19th and 20th in the League One table respectively, but both of their teams look to be turning a corner based on recent form.
In the Championship, Jordan Hugill played the full 90 minutes for Queen’s Park Rangers at Elland Road but was unable to help avert a 2-0 loss to Leeds United.
Mark Warburton’s R’s had arguably the better chances throughout the game, with Hugill twice coming close to adding to his seven goals for the London side this season – the first occasion an improvised effort to divert Nakhi Wells’ turn and shot in at the far post, the second a late header from Todd Kane’s whipped ball which sailed wide of the mark.
Goals from Tyler Roberts and Jack Harrison late in either half eventually granted the Yorkshire side the three points, boosting them to the top of the league.
Josh Cullen and Charlton Athletic also suffered a frustrating result as they went down 1-0 at home to Alex Neil’s impressive Preston side.
A late free-kick from the Irish international midfielder came close to carving out an equaliser for his team, but the Addicks ultimately slipped to a second-half Paul Gallagher penalty. The loss leaves Lee Bowyer’s team in tenth, one point and one place behind QPR in ninth.
Elsewhere, Martin Samuelsen was unable to reprise his recent goalscoring heroics this weekend as FK Haugesund held title-chasing Bodo/Glimt 2-2 in Norway’s Eliteserien.
Having played and scored a crucial second goal in Haugesund’s stunning 3-0 Norwegian Cup semi-final triumph on Thursday night – his seventh in the competition, in which he is top scorer – Samuelsen couldn’t add to his tally on Sunday afternoon, but helped his side to a creditable result.
Haugesund fell two goals behind inside the first 17 minutes, but battled back through Kristoffer Velde and Vegard Bergan’s goals to sit eighth in the table, with three games to go.
All eyes for Samuelsen and Haugesund will now be on their date with destiny: the Norwegian Cup Final against high-flying Viking on Sunday 8 December.